The Smart Way to Buy E-Bikes for Business

There are lots of great reasons for your business to start using e-bikes. Whether you hope to slash your operating costs, boost efficiency, or make your employees' jobs easier, e-bikes can help you achieve your business goals.

In a lot of ways, the decision to adopt #BikesforBusiness is the easy part. With hundreds of e-bike models to choose from and more hitting the market all the time, choosing which e-bikes to buy can be a complicated task. And because choosing the wrong e-bike model can seriously backfire, it's essential to get it right.

In this article, we'll show you how to simplify the decision-making process and choose an e-bike model that will get you and your team where you want to go. Here are the factors you should consider when buying e-bikes for your business.

Cargo Capacity

GSD with heavy boxes on rear rack
Look for ample cargo capacity when choosing an e-bike for business.

No matter what kind of business you represent, you almost certainly need your e-bikes to be cargo-ready. 

A considerable percentage of the e-bikes available today have minimal cargo capacity, so you'll be able to cross them off your list right away. Look for e-bikes with strong frames and sturdy front and rear racks that can handle the loads you need to carry. Beyond that, there are a few more details to consider.

Make sure the bikes' front racks are attached to the frame and not the fork. Fork-mounted racks and baskets can make steering more unpredictable, especially when heavily loaded. That can make a rider's job harder and potentially more dangerous.

Fork-mounted basket vs. frame-mounted front rack
Fork-mounted front racks and baskets may work for short trips, but not for commercial use. They don't hold much and often make steering harder. Left photo by Ardi Evans on Unsplash.

Also, consider the shape of the racks and the availability of compatible cargo-carrying accessories. A good e-bike for business will have plenty of options for gear to help you get the job done. Here are a few things to think about, depending on what line of business you're in:

  • Food deliveries: Think about the size and shape of your food containers, and make sure the e-bike and any accessories you choose can accommodate them. Don't forget space for drinks!
  • Rental fleets for hospitality and tourism: Your guests will need somewhere to stash their personal effects, a change of clothes, picnic supplies, and so forth. High-capacity rear panniers are perfect for this
  • Bikes for employee commutes/transportation: Your employees will need to carry briefcases, laptops, and other gear. Check to see if the e-bikes you're considering offer space for these items.

Even if you don't think cargo capacity is a big concern right now, once you start using e-bikes, you'll think of ways to do even more with them—and you'll want the bikes to be up to the task.

Quality Motor and Battery System

Bosch motor closeup
Big-name e-bike motor brands like Bosch have lengthy track records and stringent quality control processes.

All e-bike motor systems are not created equal. E-bikes that feature quality motor systems made by reputable companies will bring you years of utility and hassle-free operation. However, a poorly designed or low-quality motor system is likely to be more trouble than it's worth.

Industry-leading e-bike motor companies like Bosch, Shimano, and Suntour have years of experience in designing and testing motors, sensors, and batteries. Here are some of the advantages they can claim:

  • Extensive service networks to ensure that your e-bike's motor system is easy to maintain and repair.
  • Testing protocols to ensure that your bike's motor and battery meet relevant safety standards.
  • Established systems for replacing spent e-bike batteries (something you'll need to deal with every 2-3 years).
  • Guaranteed availability of replacement parts. Some even follow auto industry standards that require replacement part availability for six years after a product stops being made.

Contrast this with a no-name motor system on a cheaply made e-bike. Rather than being designed end-to-end by one company with deep expertise, these low-end systems are often cobbled together with untested parts. These systems tend to break more often, and when they break, there's no guarantee that replacement parts will be available.

Lower-quality motor systems may even be dangerous. Poorly designed batteries can pose a fire hazard, and in the worst-case scenario, could render your e-bike unusable. Just a few years ago, half a million hoverboards made with untested batteries were recalled due to battery fires and explosions.

Remember, an e-bike is an investment in the future of your business. Be on the safe side and invest in something with a proven track record.

Local Service

Bikes on rack in bike shop
E-bike service should take place in person at local bike shops⁠⁠—not over e-mail or by telephone. Photo by Random Sky on Unsplash.

Like any vehicle, e-bikes need regular maintenance and occasional repairs. To avoid future headaches, figure out how you'll get this done before you buy your bikes. Your best bet is to choose e-bikes with local service options.

Buying e-bikes over the internet or directly from the manufacturer might seem like a good way to keep initial costs low. However, local bike shops often can't or won't service these bikes—meaning you'll have a big problem on your hands at the first sign of trouble. 

If you're considering buying from an e-bike brand whose service plan involves diagnosing problems over the phone or via e-mail, you might want to reconsider. Many e-bike maintenance and repair issues require in-person assistance for an effective solution.

Aim to buy e-bikes from a local dealer or distributor who offers a service package as part of the purchase. Make sure there's a nearby bike shop you can turn to when the bikes need maintenance or repair. That way, you'll be able to keep things rolling and minimize costly downtime. 

Would you buy a car from a dealer in another state without any local service? If not, you shouldn't buy your e-bikes that way either.

Sturdy Design

Bike parts on workbench
Look for high-quality, brand-name components. These are often a good indicator of overall bike quality. Photo by Tom Conway on Unsplash.

Any kind of vehicle used in a commercial setting needs to be able to withstand heavy use (and maybe a little bit of abuse). After all, riders may be putting 50 miles or more on these bikes every single day. And for some types of businesses, that'll be fast and hard riding under heavy loads—the kind that takes a toll on any bike.

Not every e-bike is designed to withstand that kind of wear and tear. By choosing an e-bike with a burly frame and rugged components, you can minimize maintenance and repair costs and downtime caused by broken bikes. 

Not sure how to tell whether an e-bike is durable or not? Pay special attention to components like tires, bearings, and brakes. These are good indicators of overall quality and the manufacturer's attention to detail.

Tested by a Reputable Lab

If you're going to invest your company's money in a fleet of e-bikes, you'll want to see some proof that the bikes are fit for service. Any e-bike company can call their bikes "sturdy" and "high-quality," but only a few can back up those claims with hard evidence.

Look for e-bikes that have passed rigorous quality and safety tests through test laboratories such as TUV or EFBE. That way, you'll know your e-bikes can truly handle the work you need them to do. 

The Tern GSD and Tern HSD are both sturdy, cargo-ready e-bikes that have passed EFBE testing based on a demanding German standard for cargo bikes.

Ability to Adjust to Fit Riders of Different Sizes

Assorted tape measures
A good e-bike for business should be adjustable to fit a wide range of rider sizes. Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash.

The people who will be riding your bikes come in all shapes and sizes, and you'll want to make sure your e-bikes fit as many of them as possible.

Many e-bike models come in different frame sizes. When you're using bikes in a business context, that can be a real pain. You don't want to create an extra logistical challenge for yourself by trying to either match specific bikes to individual riders or create an assortment of frame sizes that will somehow work for everyone.

E-bikes that adjust to fit a wide range of rider heights are a far more practical solution. Look for e-bikes with adjustable seatposts and handlebars that use quick releases for fast, no-tools adjustments. For example, the HSD adjusts to fit riders 150 - 195 cm tall (4'11"-6'5"), so it's ready to be shared by the whole team.

Secure Storage and Easy Transportation

Don't forget that you'll need somewhere to store your e-bikes. Ideally, you'll be able to store them indoors, where they'll be protected from the elements and easier to secure.

Short on space? Some e-bikes, like the GSD and the HSD, can be parked vertically for a footprint about the size of a potted plant. These bikes can get even more compact by folding flat. As a bonus, flat-folding bikes make transportation super simple: just load them into the back of a van or SUV.

Low Center of Gravity for Easier Handling

Heavy loads change the way bikes handle. Even skilled riders sometimes struggle to maneuver through traffic when the bike's center of gravity moves upward due to cargo loading. Smaller riders face particular difficulty in managing fully-loaded bikes in stop-and-go traffic.

Choosing a bike with a low center of gravity can solve this problem before it starts. Unlike conventional bikes, e-bikes don't need large wheels for maximum rolling efficiency. Some e-bike models make the most of that fact by using small 20" wheels. That brings the bike's center of gravity closer to the ground, which makes the bikes easier to handle.

This is especially important for businesses whose riders will log a lot of miles every day. Think of the physical strength it takes to stabilize a fully-loaded food delivery e-bike when stopping and starting at a stoplight. A lower center of gravity would make that much more comfortable, which means less worker fatigue (and potentially fewer injuries and accidents).

Battery Range

GSD with double battery and mountains
E-bikes with dual batteries or extra battery storage let you roam far and wide. Photo by Galen Crout on Unsplash.

The last thing anyone wants is to run out of juice in the middle of a delivery or other task. Having to return to home base and swap out batteries mid-shift is also annoying and time-consuming. An e-bike with a dual-battery system like the Tern GSD will greatly extend your range. 

Advertising Space for Your Brand

Blank white billboard
Spread the word about your brand by turning your bikes into rolling billboards. Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash.

Wouldn't it be great if your e-bikes were rolling billboards for your brand? After all, when you're doing business in a smart, sustainable way, you want to spread the word far and wide. Look for bikes with options for custom colors and space for your company's logo, as well as an ecosystem of customizable accessories.

Interested in learning how businesses like yours can benefit from e-bikes? Get in touch.